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Does Long-Term Psychotherapy Work?

Posted Nov 23 2008 8:20pm

In the age of managed care, long-term psychotherapy has become a dinosaur.  Managed-care prefers short-term treatment.  Now there is research that shows the effectiveness of long-term psychotherapy.

The  had this very informative article entitled “Research Finds Psychoanalysis Effective for Patients with Complex Mental Disorders”.  Dr. Leichensring was quoted as saying the patients studied “showed significant, large and stable treatment effects which even significantly increased between the end of treatment and follow-up assessment.”

Drs. Leichensring and Rabung, both of Germany, reviewed 23 studies of a total of 1,053 patients who underwent individual psychodynamic psychotherapy for a minimum of one year or 50 sessions.  The patients had very severe and difficult diagnoses.  The effects of LTPP were evaluated for very difficult cases such as “patients with personality disorders, chronic mental disorders, multiple mental disorders and complex depressive and anxiety disorders”.  The severity of the diagnostic categories makes the positive results of therapy even more impressive.

The Journal of American Medical Association had an article entitled “ Effectiveness of Long-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. The following quotations were taken from the article. 

  • “LTPP showed significantly higher outcomes in overall effectiveness, target problems, and personality functioning than shorter forms of psychotherapy”.
  • “There is evidence that LTPP is an effective treatment for complex mental disorders”.

Sometimes, short is not better than long.  Sometimes cheap is not better than more expensive.  Sometimes cost-effective is not better than quality of life.

 These studies bring hope for people with difficult diagnoses  and for people will have failed to improve following short-term therapies.  Do not be fearful of entering long-term psychotherapy.  If you want to improve the quality of your life, long-term psychotherapy or mental fitness training may be the answer for you.

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